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Hemminger releases statement clarifying events surrounding the removals

jefferson davis highway marker

The marker honoring the president of the Confederate States of America is located at the intersection of Henderson and Franklin streets, a few feet away from McCorkle Place.

Update, 5:37 p.m.: Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger released a statement at 3:40 p.m. Friday reiterating that the plaques were removed because of public safety concerns, but the Town hopes to continue working with the community.

"Our Town is committed to our shared values of being a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone," she said. "To that end, we will continue to support our community’s ongoing work to identify and commemorate the people, places and events in our  history that have helped shape the community we are today."

This is a developing story, check back for updates. 

Update, 2:45 p.m.: Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger confirmed in a phone call with The Daily Tar Heel that a portion of the plaque was taken before crews arrived this morning to remove it. Hemminger could not confirm that Confederate 901 had taken the portion of the plaque that was missing. 

"A portion of the plaque was already missing when crews got there this morning," she said.

Hemminger said that the Town was committed to returning the plaques to their owners, and that the plaques were now in storage. Despite getting many tips about different groups that could have taken the portion of the plaque, Hemminger said they have received information about who actually had it in their possession. 

"We had different groups originally claiming they had taken it, but Orange County Sheriffs actually had a tip on who had taken it and they got it back and it was returned," she said. 

The Jefferson Davis Memorial marker was taken down in anticipation of Saturday's protests, Hemminger said, citing a concern for public safety. 

"While we value people's rights to protest peacefully and express their opinions, it does come at the expense of public safety, so we have to be mainly concerned with public safety," she said.

This is a developing story, check back for updates. 

Update, 1:53 p.m.: In a Facebook message to The Daily Tar Heel, Confederate 901 confirmed it is in Confederate possession.

"All u need to know confederacy has it and it will not b returned this time by sympathetic cops," they said in the message.

Annie Simpson, one of the dedication plaque's artists, said the Town never told her that it was removing the plaque, and hasn't been communicating with her at all. 

"It would be nice for the Town to recognize that anti-racist activists that advocate for removing statues is not the same as racists that vandalize memorials to intimate and denigrate people," Simpson said. 

This is a developing story, check back for updates. 


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Update, 1:20 p.m.: Activist group Take Action Chapel Hill is reporting that the Town of Chapel Hill did not actually give the plaques back to their original owners.

Confederate 901 posted to its Facebook page two hours ago saying the plaque is in "Confederacy hands once again" and included pictures of the dedication plaque on top of the Confederate flag.

Take Action Chapel Hill released a statement minutes ago demanding that the Town explain what is going on.

"As anti-racist student activists, we call on the Town of Chapel Hill to commission student artists to create and install a new, official, permanent monument to the Negro Wench," the statement said. "Public monuments are not neutral."

This is an ongoing story, check back for updates. 

The Town of Chapel Hill has removed two memorial markers on Franklin Street, citing public safety issues. 

One of the markers was the Jefferson Davis Memorial Marker. The other, which had just been replaced by the Town on Wednesday, was the dedication plaque to the woman Julian Carr described whipping in his 1913 dedication speech for the Confederate monument Silent Sam.

The dedication plaque was initially put up last week and was removed on Feb. 15, raising concerns after the Facebook group Confederate 901 posted a video saying that the plaque was in "Confederate possession." The investigation is ongoing as of Wednesday.

The history of the Jefferson Davis Memorial Marker has been contentious since the Orange County Board of Commissioners announced it would be removed in October 2018.

It is unclear whether the county had the authority to make the decision, and ever since, the Town and the N.C. Department of Transportation have been going back and forth to determine who has right of way over the property where the memorial once stood. The Town sent a letter to N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein to determine who can finally remove the marker in January.

The plaques were removed on the recommendation of Chapel Hill public safety officials, citing that the plaques were a "public nuisance" and "created a public safety threat." Both plaques will be offered back to their owners. 

On Saturday, two rallies are scheduled to take place at UNC in the regards to the dedication plaque.

The Town made this decision after conducting a threat assessment leading up to this weekend’s scheduled demonstrations and receiving an update from Stein's office, which determined the marker was not on University or state property. According to the office's research, the property “appears” to be owned by the Town, according to the press release.

The Town emphasized it is working closely with the University to prepare for this weekend's demonstrations and will provide any further information on road closures or service changes later today.


Anna Pogarcic

Anna Pogarcic is the editor-in-chief of The Daily Tar Heel. She is a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill studying journalism and history major. 

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